The Spymasters: How the CIA's Directors Shape History and Guard the Future

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Book Rating (9)

Narrator Rating (5)

Written By: Chris Whipple

Narrated By: Mark Bramhall

Date: September 2020

Duration: 14 hours 49 minutes


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Gatekeepers, an “engaging…richly textured” (The New York Times), behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to run the world’s most powerful intelligence agency. “The best book about the CIA I’ve ever read…one hell of a story” (Christopher Buckley).

With unprecedented access to more than a dozen individuals who have made the life-and-death decisions that come with running the world’s most powerful and influential intelligence service, Chris Whipple tells the story of an agency that answers to the United States president alone, but whose activities—spying, espionage, and covert action—take place on every continent. At pivotal moments, the CIA acts as a counterforce against rogue presidents, starting in the mid-seventies with DCI Richard Helms’s refusal to conceal Richard Nixon’s criminality and through the Trump presidency when a CIA whistleblower ignited impeachment proceedings and armed insurrectionists assaulted the US Capitol.

Since its inception in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency has been a powerful player on the world stage, operating largely in the shadows to protect American interests. For The Spymasters, Whipple conducted extensive, exclusive interviews with nearly every living CIA director, pulling back the curtain on the world’s elite spy agencies and showing how the CIA partners—or clashes—with counterparts in Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Topics covered in the book include attempts by presidents to use the agency for their own ends; simmering problems in the Middle East and Asia; rogue nuclear threats; and cyberwarfare.

A revelatory, well-researched history, The Spymasters recounts seven decades of CIA activity and elicits predictions about the issues—and threats—that will engage the attention of future operatives and analysts. Including eye-opening interviews with George Tenet, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus, as well as those who’ve recently departed the agency, this is a timely, essential, and important contribution to current events.


  • D.L. Phillips

    It wasn't by mistake that the book came out in September of 2020. While the original work was promising. (TY Anne K. Said it better than I could.) It was like Chris Whipple had a manuscript that was dug out of the moth-balls. I can imagine Podesta calling Whipple up and saying, "Remember that book you were working on? Yeah, we need that finished and out by September." Why do I say this? Because all through the book it may very well have some historical significance (again, TY Anne K.) but it's the "never-Trump" stuff put in as a pre-election spike that turned me against the book. Some huge contradictions with actual history we now know in November, 2021. Like the whole PP Tape hoax and the DNC hack. The book plays it up like the answers are already known, yet they are so obviously lies, that it ruins the credibility of the whole book. Also, Barack gave a speech prior to the 2016 election where he said, "No threat of cheating." and the book should have mentioned that, to round out any discussion on how Barack "tried to warn everyone about cheating". It all comes off as a big lie. The fact that these DCI's dog-pile on the now-discredited stories, puts into doubt another glaring omission, Uranium One. IF they were willing to lie about Comey trying to shake Trump down, then their signatures helping Putin capture 20% of the US Uranium supply has that same STANK all over it. The audio is worse yet, because the dubs are tacked on in obvious places to correct something they might have gotten sued over. The glaring omissions are even louder than what is written. AND GINA! Holy cow! 180 on her! It's like one author wrote the truth about her from Rodriguez and then a second author came into the picture and threw mud on her, just because she faithfully served her President. On top of everything else, the editor in charge of puffing Obama and infusing outrage in key places, just puts a whole cloak of doubt about the authenticity. I hope Whipple got paid a lot of money, because he'll never see another dime from me. I don't trust him. One more thing. If you read many non-fiction books on the history of the agency, cross reference those against the details in this book. You will find that this author has a huge bias towards a specific party and specific directors. Nothing in this book should be trusted, because the scenes from History that I witnessed myself, paint a very different picture. The title of this book should be, "Democrats are Pure as the Driven Snow: But them darn Republicans! - Oh, yeah, and I talk about stuff the former DCI's lied to me about." This book does do one thing really well. Whatever it claims about Trump, convinced me of the EXACT opposite. Chris... If you're reading this: "Lets Go Brandon"

  • Anne K.

    This could have been an excellent book and an important part of history, detailing the legacy of those who've led the CIA. But it wasn't. Instead, the author starts the book--and ends it--on tirades about Trump. Why? These grand diversions were so out of place that they overshadowed a stronger, middle of the book. That middle part is well worth reading and quite interesting, if you could only skip the book beginning and a solid chunk toward the end. The idolatry of recent director Brennan also detracted from later chapters, seeming to shade any semblance of objectivity. In fact, there were many instances in later chapters of the truth bent to match the author's views. Had he stuck to undisputed facts--and to CIA directors--the book might have stood the test of time, but it won't. I was close friends with an interim director of the CIA, who was oddly enough not covered; other interim directors were, and the omission made me wonder just how deep the author's sources went. Maybe not deep enough.

  • Gregg B.

    This author is very informative early on in the book but he is definitely biased against Trump on almost every aspect of his presidency. He also states in the book that Benghazi attack was not the fault of the Obama administration including Hilary Clinton and also tries to state the Steel Dossier was a real Russian document. These two glaring lie’s which have no support show this book is a political hack job especially due to the timing of the release of the book in a presidential election year.

Spymasters: How the CIA's Directors Shape History and Guard the Future

by Chris Whipple

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Spymasters: How the CIA's Directors Shape History and Guard the Future, Chris Whipple
Spymasters: How the CIA's Directors Shape History and Guard the Future, Chris Whipple
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Spymasters: How the CIA's Directors Shape History and Guard the Future, Chris Whipple
This title is due for release on September 15, 2020
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Spymasters: How the CIA's Directors Shape History and Guard the Future, Chris Whipple
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